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presidential politics. so heeding that advice and preferring that we encourage the kind of evaluative and educational process that does justice to this committee and justice to the united states senate ratification process, i announce today that i do not currently intend to bring the treaty to a vote before the november elections. we will have extensive hearings. we will do our due diligence. we'll prepare for a vote, but unless somehow the dynamic were to shift or change, we will wait until the passions of the election have subsided before we vote. my hope and expectation is that everyone will exhaust all avenues of inquiry and carefully consider the arguments on both sides. the contentious political season will now give us a chance to do what this committee has historically done best, which is not to politicize but to spend serious thoughtful time deliberating and debating all of the questions of substance.
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i'm pleased to see that the internet is already beginning to buzz with some discussion of this. but i will say up front there's a lot of misinformation and there's a certain amount of mythology, so i look forward to the process of clearing up the misinformation and the mythology as my friend, senator moynahan used to say, our friend, then senator clinton, and senator warner, who is here, famous phrase, everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. there are facts with respect to this treaty. i look forward to this committee establishing what they are. ultimately, this issue needs to be decided by the members of the commi committee asking tough questions of the witnesses and not by the outside groups. so i'm pleased we're going to have an opportunity over the next several weeks, maybe the next several months to hear from
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mul multiple witnesses. we begin today with our top security leader wheres. they're be followed by the military commanders, by top business leaders, the chamber of commerce, others, by treaty experts, and by opponents. once again, i simply ask that everybody work hard to find out what is factual and what the realities are with respect to how this works. and so with that, i would like to welcome today's distinguished witnesses. as secretary of state, hillary clinton has worked tirelessly to advance our security and economic interests abroad, and i think everyone agrees has done a tremendous job at doing so. secretary of defense leon panetta has served with great distinction across four decades in government. he's earned broad respect from democrats and republicans, and general martin dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, has done a tremendous job
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in his stewardship of the military in a time of extraordinary challenge and transition. >> i join you in welcoming secretary clinton, secretary panetta, and general dempsey. we're very pleased and honored you have joined us today. nine years ago, the foreign relations committee began consideration of the law of the sea convention, as designated by george w. bush as one of the five urgent treaties needing ratification. the foreign relations committee took up all five of the treaties in the 108th congress, and all but the law of sea gained the advice and consent of the senate. our committee held two public hearings and four commations of the law. six cabinets and departments participated in the interagency group that helped write the
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advice and consent that accompanied the treaty at that time. in the private sector, every major ocean industry, including shipping, fishing, oil, and natural gas, drilling contractors, ship builders, tell communication companies that use underwater cables supported u.s. succession to the law of the sea and lobbied in favor of it. during the four months of consideration of the treaty, the committee received only one negative communication related to the treaty. and that was from a private individual. none of the 19 members of the committee requested additional witnesses or hearings. and the resolution of ratification praszed on february 25, 2004, without a dissenting vote. despite the unanimous vote in the foreign relations committee, senator bill frist, then the majority leader, declined to bring the convention up in the
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senate. so in 2012, we tried again. and the committee undertook an even lengthier process. resulting in a 17-4 vote to refer the convention to the full senate. by that time, senator harry reid had become majority leader, and he, too d clined to bring the law of the sea before the full senate. in 2009 and 2010, discussions occurred on the law of the sea wib within the obama administration passing the convention was apparently not accorded a high priority. there was no action on the part to move the law of the sea. the obama administration's 2009 treaty priority list listed no emphasis on the law of the sea, listing it among 17 treaties among which action was supported. to my knowledge, the only
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mention of law of the sea by the president in the first two years was one like in his executive order covering policies which was issued on july 19, 2010. clearly, however, now the enthusiasm for law of the sea has increased within the administration during this congress. the presence of the distinguished panel before us today surely underscores this. the substantial case for law of the sea is even stronger today than it was in 2004 which i brought it up as chairman of the committee at that time. every year that's goes by, without the united states joining the convention, resulted in deepening our country's submission to ocean laws and practices determined by foreign governments without united states input. our navy and our ocean industries operate every day in a maritime environment that is increasing lly dominated by
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foreign decision making and almost every other context, the senate would be outraged as subjected americans to foreign controls without united states input. but many observers fail to understand about law of the sea is the convention already formed the basis of maritime law regardless to whether the united states is a party or not. international decisions related to resource exploitation, navigation rights, and other matters will be made in the context of the convention, whether we join or not. because of this, there's virtual unanimity in favor of the treaty among people who actually deal with oceans on a daily basis. and invest their money in job creating activities on the ocean. by not joining the treaty, we're abetting russian ambitions in the arctic. we're making the job of our navy more difficult despite the long
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standing and nearly unanimous pleas of navy leaders for the united states participation and the law of the sea will help them maintain navigational rights more effectively and with less risk to the men and women they command. we're turning our backs on the requests of important american industries that use the ocean and must abide by rules established under this convention, and we're diminishing our chances for energy unless by making our u.s. gas and oil exploration in waters less likely. and we won't even be able to participate in the amendment process to the treaty which is far more likely to impose new requirements on our navy and ocean industries if the united states is absent. we'll feel these costs most keenly in the arctic which is why the alaskan governors and senators of both parties have supported this treaty.
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in 2007, paul kelly testifying on behalf of the oil and gas industry underscored how much we have to lose in the arctic by remaining outside the treaty. he stated under the law of the sea, the united states would have a chance to expand over 291,000 square miles of extended continental shelf. much of this is in the arctic, controlled one quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and natural gas. mr. kelly said, and i quote, by some estimates, in the years ahead, we could see a historic dividing up of many millions of square cilometers of off shore territory and all of the rights of living and nonliving resources. how much long er can the united states afford to be a laggard in this, end quote. it could be asserted to robust
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naval power, are not relevant to the real world. the overwhelming majority of ocean disputes do not involve enemies or issues that warrant military action. as admiral patrick waulsh testified at our first hearing in 2007, and i quote, many of the partners we have in the global war on terror who have put life, limb, and national treasure on the line, are some of the same ones where we have disagreements on what they view as their economic zone or their environmental laws. it does not seem to me to be wise now to conduct freedom of navigation operations against those very partners that we are in our headquarters trying to pursue in more difficult challenge ahead of us. a global war on terror, end of quote. even a mythical 1,000 ship united states navy do not patrol every strait, protect every economic interest, or assert
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every navigational right. a timing to do so would be prohibitively expensive and confrontational. a decision before the committee now as well as the senate should continue to consign the united states to a position of self imposed weakness and our ability to influence ocean affairs despite the fact that no other nation has a greater interest in navigational freedom. a larger exclusive economic zone, or a more advanced technological capacity to exploit ocean resources. the senate should enthusiastically affirm of the leadership of the united states in this vital area of international relations by giving advice and consent to the law of the sea convention. i thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that very much. madamsicita secretary, if you wd lead off, secretary panetta, and then general dempsey.
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>> thank you very much. after both of your opening comments, i think you have made the case both eloquently and persuasively for everyone who is willing to look at the facts. i am well aware that this treaty does have determined opposition, limited, but nevertheless, quite vociferous, and it's unfortunate because it's opposition based in ideology and mythology, not in fact, evidence, or a consequences of our continuing failure to exceed to the treaty. so i think you'll hear from both secretary panetta and general dempsey as well as myself further statements and information that really re-enforces the very strong point that both of you have made. we believe that it is imperative
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to act now. no country is better served by this convention than the united states. as the world's foremost maritime power, we benefit from the convention's favorable freedom of navigation provision, as the country with the world's second longer coastline, we benefit from its provisions on offshore natural resources, as a country with an exceptionally large area of sea floor, we benefit from the ability to extend our continental shelf and the oil and gas rights on that shelf, as a global trading power, we benefit from the mobility that the convention accords to all conventional ships, and as the only country under this treaty that was given a permanent sea on the group that will make decisions about deep seabed mining, we will be in a unique
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position to promote our interests. now, the many benefits of this convention have attracted a wide ranging coalition of supporters. obviously, as we heard from both senator kerry and senator lugar, republican and democratic president have supported u.s. ecsession. military leaders who see the benefit for our national security, american businesses including strongly the u.s. chamber of commerce, see the economic benefits. it has the support of every effected industry including shipping, fisheries, telecommunications, and energy. environmental groups as well. we have a coalition of environmentalconservations, businesses, all in support of this convention. i would ask that my longer written statement along with the
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letters i have written in support of the treaty be put into the record. >> without objection. >> one could argue, ten years ago, 20 years ago, maybe even five years ago, joining the convention was important but not urgent. that is no longer the case today. four new developments make our participation a matter of utmost security and economic urgency. first, for years, american oil and gas companies were not technologically ready to take advantage of the convention's provision regarding the extended u.s. continental shelf. now they are. the convention allows countries to claim sovereignty over their continental shelf far out into the ocean, beyond 200 nautical miles from shore. the relevant area for the united
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states is probably more than one and a half times the size of texas. in fact, we believe it could be considerably larger. u.s. oil and gas companies are now ready, willing, and able to explore this area. but they have made it clear to us that they need the maximum level of international legal certainty before they will or could make a substantial investment. and we believe create many jobs in doing so, needed to extract the far offshore resources. if we were a party to the convention, we would gain international recognition of our sovereign rights, including by using the convention's procedures and therefore be able to give our oil and gas companies this legal certainty.
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staying outside the conventions, we simply cannot. the second development concerns deep seabed mining, which takes place in that part of the ocean floor that is beyond any country's jurisdiction. now, for years, technological challenges meant that deep seabed mining was only theoretical. today's advances make it very real. but it's also very expensive. and before any company will explore a mine site, it will naturally insist on having a secure title to the site and the minerals that it will recover. the convention offers the only effective mechanism for gaining this title. but only a party to the convention can use this mechanism on behalf of its companies. so as long as the united states
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is outside the convention, our companies are left with two bad choices. either take their deep sea mining business to another country or give up on the idea. meanwhile, as you heard from senator kerry and senator lugar, china, russia, and many other countries are already securing their licenses under the convention to begin mining for valuable metals and rare earth elements. and as you know, rare earth elms are essential for manufacturing high-tech products like cell phones and flat screen televisions. they're currently in tight supply and produce almost exclusively by china. while we're challenging china's exports restrictions on these critical materials, we also need american companies to develop other sources. but as it stands today, they will only do that if they have the secure rights that can only be provided under this
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convention. if we expect to be able to manage our own energy future and our need for rare earth minerals, we must be a party to the law of the sea convention. the third development that is now urgent is the emerging opportunities in the arctic. as the area gets warmer, it's opening up to new actativeties, such as fishing, shipping, and tourism. this convention provides the international framework to deal with these new opportunities. we're the only arctic nation outside the convention. russia and the other arctic states are advancing their continental shelf claims in the arctic while we're on the outside looking in. as a party to the convention, we would have a much stronger basis to assert our interests throughout the entire arctic region. the fourth development is that the convention's bodies are now
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up and running. the body that makes recommendations regarding country's continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles is actively considering submissions from over 40 countries without the participation of a u.s. commissioner. the the body addressing deep sea bed mining is now drawing up the rules to govern the extraction of minerals of great interest to the united states and american industry. it simply should not be acceptable to us that the united states will be absent every either of those discussions. our negotiators obtained a permanent u.s. seat on the key decision-making body for deep seabed mining. i know of no other international body that accords one country and one country alone, us, a permanent seat on its decision-making body, but until we join, that reserve seat remains empty.
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so those are the stakes for our economy. and you will hear from secretary panetta and general dempsey that our security interests are intrinsically linked to freedom of navigation. we have much more to gain from legal certainty and public order in the world's oceans than any other country. u.s. armed forces rely on the navigational rights and freedoms reflected in the convention for worldwide access to get to combat areas, sustain our forces during conflict and return home safely all without permission from other countries. now, as a nonparty to the convention, we rely, we have to rely on what is called customary international law as a legal basis for invoking and enforcing these norms. but in no other situation in which our security interests are at stake do we consider customary international law good
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enough to protect rights that are vital to the operation of the united states' military. so far, we've been fortunate. but our navigational rights and our ability to challenge other countries' behavior should stand on the firmest and most persuasive legal footing available, including in critical areas such as the south china sea. i'm sure you have followed the claims countries are making in the south china sea. although we do not have territory there, we have vital interests particularly freedom of navigation, and i can report from the diplomatic trenches that as a party to the convention, we would have greater credibility in invoking the convention's rules and a greater ability to enforce them. now, i know a number of you the have you heard arguments opposing the convention. and let me just address those head-on. critics claim we would surrender u.s. sovereignty under this territory -- under this treaty. but in fact, it's exactly the opposite.
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we would securely sovereign rights over vast new areas and resources, including our 200-mile exclusive economic zone and vast continental shelf area extending off our coasts and at least 600 miles off alaska. i know some are concerned that the treaty's provisions for binding dispute settlement would impinge on our sovereignty. we are no stranger to similar provisions including in the world trade organization which has allowed to us bring trade cases, many of them currently pending against abusers around the world. as with the wto, the u.s. has much more to gain than lose from this proposition by being able to hold others accountable under clear and transparent rules. some critics invoke the concern we would be submitting to mandatory technology transfer and cite president reagan's other initial objections to the treaty. you know, those concerns might have been relevant decades ago,
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but today they are not. in 1994, negotiators made modifications specifically to address each of president reagan's objections, including mandatory technology transfer, which is why president reagan's own secretary of state george schulze, has stten we should enjoin the convention in light of those modifications having been made. now, some continue to assert we do not need to join the convention for u.s. companies to drill beyond 200 miles or to engage in deep seabed mining. that's not what the companies say. so i find it quite ironic, in fact, somewhat bewildering, that a group, an organization, an individual would make a claim that is refuted by every major company in every major sector of the economy who stands to benefit from this treaty. under current circumstances, they are very clear.
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they will not take on the costs and risk these activities under uncertain legal frameworks. they need indisputable internationally recognized rights available under the treaty. so please, listen to these companies, not to those who have other reasons or claims that are not based on the facts. these companies are refuting the critics who say go ahead. you'll be fine. but they're not the ones, the critics being asked to invest tens of millions of dollars without the legal certainty that comes with joining the convention. now, some mischaracterize the payments for benefit of resource rights beyond 200 miles as "a u.n. tax." this is my personal favorite of the arguments against the treaty, that it will be used to support the state sponsors of terrorism. honestly, i don't know the where these people make these things
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up, but anyway, the convention does not contain or authorize any such taxes. any royalty fee does not go to the united nations. it goes into a fund for distribution to parties of the convention and we were we actually in the convention, would have a permanent veto power over how the funds are distributed. and we could prevent them from going anywhere we did not want them to go. i just want to underscore, this is simple arithmetic. if we don't join the convention, our companies will miss out on opportunities to explore vast areas of continental shelf and deep seabed. if we do join the convention, we unlock economic opportunities worth potentially hundreds of billions of dollars for a small percentage royalty a few years down the line. i've also heard we should not i join this convention, because, quote, it's a u.n. treaty.
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and, of course, that means the black helicopters are on their way. well the fact that a treaty was negotiated under the auspices of the united nations which is after all, a convenient gathering place for the countries of the world, has not stopped us from joining agreements that are in our interests. we are party to dozens of agreements, negotiated under the u.n. auspices on everything from counter-terrorism and law enforcement to health, commerce and aviation, and we often pay fees under those treaties recognizing the benefits we get dwarf those minimal fees. and on the national security front, some argue we would be handing power over the u.s. navy to an international body. patently untrue, obviously absolutely contrary to any history or law governing our navy. none of us would be sitting here if there were even a chance that
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you could make the most absurd argument that could possibly lead to that conclusion. disputes concerning u.s. military activities are clearly excluded from dispute settlement under the convention. and neither is it true that the convention would prohibit intelligence activities. the intelligence community has once again in 2012, as it did in 2007 as it did in 2003, confirm that is absolutely not true. so whatever arguments may have existed for delaying u.s. accession no longer exist, and truly cannot be even taken with a straight face. the benefits of joining have always been significant but today, the costs of not joining are increasing. so much is at stake and i there for urge the committee to listen to the experts, listen to our businesses, listen to the
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chamber of commerce, listen to our military, and please give advice and consent to this treaty before the end of this year. thank you, mr. chairman. >> madame secretary, thank you for very important testimony. i particularly appreciate the detail that you went into. i think it's very helpful. mr. secretary. >> chairman kerry, senator lugar, distinguished members, i want to thank you for the opportunity to appear here as the first secretary of defense to testify in support of the united states accession to the law of the sea convention. i've been involved with ocean issues most of my career. and i strongly believe that accession to this treaty is absolutely essential, not only to our economic interests, our diplomatic interests, but i'm here to say that it's extremely important to our national security interests, as well.
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